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Smartwatches distract drivers, too

As technology advances, so must the laws that protect the public from the accompanying dangers. The latest devices to come into the safety crosshairs are wearable technologies like smartwatches.

There are concerns that, just like smartphones, smartwatches contribute to the problem of distracted driving. They both are and are not "hands-free" devices. While it's true they are not handheld in the traditional sense of the word, by being worn on the wrist just below the hand, their omnipresence assures distraction is just a vibration, beep or light-up alert away from the driver.

Cocking one's wrist to squint at the tiny screen to read an update or message while tooling down the road doing 70 miles per hour can certainly present risks of danger. If the driver of the car ahead slams on its brakes at just that moment, a tragic disaster can result.

What does the law say about wearables?

Technology advances faster than the laws can keep pace, so this can vary. In California, it is illegal to use a device like a smartphone while driving. Because it is similar to a smartphone and not totally hands-free, should an accident result, the at-fault driver using a smartwatch could be held liable or even face criminal penalties in some circumstances.

If you were injured in a collision and you suspect that the driver who caused an accident was interacting with his or her smartwatch at or just before the moment of impact, this is a very important point to address in any claim for damages or civil suit that is filed.

Source: FindLaw, "Smartwatches and Distracted Driving Laws," George Khoury, accessed Nov. 18, 2016

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